2461. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 July 1814

2461. Robert Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, 17 July 1814 ⁠* 

17 July 1814.

My dear Grosvenor

The two concluding books of Roderick [1]  go off this evening in a parcel to the Docstor. Laus Deo! [2]  The Printer used xxx in old times to put this at the end of a book, & I am sure I have reason to do so now, having compleated a poem of 7000 lines. The press is now waiting for the books in your hands, [3] Croker would direct them to me at any time. Pray do not detain them longer than is necessary. This is the first thing which I have to say. The next is concerning the Dedication. You know very well that the thought of addressing it to the Prince would never have entered my head, had it not seemed proper that as a Poet I should pay offer him some mark of respect & this has been sufficiently done by beöding him. [4]  Any thing farther would be doing too much, & you know me well enough to be certain that I should rather err on the other side. Roderick therefore will go into the world with a dedication much more accordant to my feelings. It is in Latin because a man may promise himself immortality with a better grace in that language than he can do in English, but I was never expert in Latin composition, & for twenty years have entirely disused it, [5]  so that I may very <well> distrust myself now in attempting that wherein I should at no time have felt confident. However a man in his senses cannot xxxxxxxx be drownd in shallow water, & before this gets to the press I shall see Knox [6]  & ask him if it can be mended.

Grosvenori Carolo Bedford

hocce poema

in perpetuam amicitiæ memorium


Robertus Southey [7] 

I am not quite sure about the second line, nor whether the fourth ought not rather to be dicat dedicat qui. [8]  Tell me if you can. Had Elmsley been in England I should have applied to him.

These last books are tragedy of a peculiar kind, – mournful but not distressing, – for you acquiesce in the catastrophe, & wish for it. Admire Orelio [9]  I charge you, & if you name your next horse after him I shall not be offended, provided it be a good horse, & milk. The reason for his colour is that Santiago rides a white horse. [10] 

I hear of the Bust [11]  from all quarters except from three persons to whom I should give it. Neither Tom nor John May, have received it, – mine is not arrived, – & I suppose my Uncle may also be still looking for his. I have desired the Docstor, living near, to make enquiry about them, & expedite their delivery

I have been looking very anxiously to hear of your own health & of your mother

God bless you



* Address: To/ G. C. Bedford Esqre/ 9. Stafford Row/ Buckingham Gate/ London
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
Postmark: E/ 20 JY 20/ 1814
Endorsement: 17. July. 1814./ Dedication of Roderick to G. C. B.
MS: Bodleian Library, MS Eng. Lett. c. 25. ALS; 3p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Books 24 and 25 of Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814). BACK

[2] ‘Praise be to god’. BACK

[3] i.e. MS drafts of Roderick sent to Bedford for his comments. BACK

[4] Southey had considered dedicating Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814) to the Prince Regent, and sent Bedford a draft dedication; see Southey to Grosvenor Charles Bedford, [30 April–1 May 1814], Letter 2412. However, he had changed his mind after publishing an ‘Ode to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland’, III and IV; Congratulatory Odes. Odes to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia, and His Majesty the King of Prussia (London, 1814), pp. [5]–12. BACK

[5] i.e. since Southey left Balliol College, Oxford in 1794. BACK

[6] John William Knox (1784–1862), an usher at Westminster School 1806–1821, clergyman and Latin scholar. BACK

[7] An early Latin version of the dedication published in English in Roderick, the Last of the Goths (1814): ‘To/ Grosvenor Charles Bedford,/ This poem is inscribed,/ In lasting memorial of a long and uninterrupted friendship,/ By his old school-fellow/ Robert Southey’. BACK

[8] ‘Who gives and dedicates’. BACK

[9] In Southey’s poem, Roderick’s horse. BACK

[10] In legend, St James, the patron saint of Spain, whose bones are believed to be buried at Santiago de Compostella, appeared on a white horse to urge the Christians on in their fight against the Moors. BACK

[11] Southey had sat for a bust in October 1813 sculpted by James Smith (1775–1815). It took a long time to finish and be dispatched, and Southey, who intended to send copies to family and friends, was annoyed by the delay. BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 1 time)
George IV (1762–1830) (mentioned 1 time)
Bedford family (mentioned 1 time)
Elmsley, Peter (1774–1825) (mentioned 1 time)
May, John (1775–1856) (mentioned 1 time)